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"Coercive" land acquisition on in Andhra Pradesh to build Singapore-type state capital

By Our Representative
Civil society network National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)-sponsored Dandi-to-Delhi Samvidhan Samman Yatra, currently in its second phase, reached the Amravati region, the proposed capital city of Andhra Pradesh, where it was told that the whole vision of making a capital city by chief minister Chandrababu Naidu has “devastated the agriculture in more than 29 villages in the name of development.”
Talking with NAPM activists led by well-known Goldman Environment (also called Green Nobel) prize recipient Prafulla Samantara and top Gandhian socialist Sandeep Pandey, Kiran Kumar Vissa of the Rythu Swaraj Vedika said, the Shivram Committee recommended to set up capital either in a decentralized manner or in Rayalseema.
The yatra, which began at Dandi, Gujarat, on October 2, Gandhi Jayanti, will end on world human rights day, December 10, in Delhi. In its second phase, it reached Andhra Pradesh after travelling through Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Telangana. 
“However, Naidu, rejected the report and decided to go ahead with the Amravati plan with a promise to make a city like Singapore. This obsession with western model of development has threatened the indigeneity of the area”, he underlined, adding, the acquisition of more than 50,000 acres of land for the capital city through coercive “voluntary land pooling” has left little option with the cultivators of the region.
“The benefits of consent and social impact assessment (SIA) provisions of Central land acquisition Act, 2013 remained distant for the people. From transparency to public hearing, everything was just bypassed to silence any voice raised against the acquisition. After land pooling, no farmers are allowed to cultivate the land even when no work started on the land”, Vissa said.
Worse, he said, not learning from the the devastation of Chennai flood, Amravati also seems to be following the footsteps of Chennai and encroaching on water bodies. It is the irony in the country that the real estate sector and businesses are being given priority on top of environment and people of the largest democracy.
The yatra reached Undavalli, the first village in the route. Activists took out a rally starting from the fields of Undavalli, with a large number of farmers joining them, suggesting discontentment among the people, suppressed since long by the state government.
Rythu Swaraj Vedika activists, talking with yatra participants, said, there are 120 documented different crops being cultivated in the region. The area is famous for its rich fertile soil which supports four or more crops at the same time.
Naji Reddy, a farmer from Nidamarru, the second village visited by the yatra, said, “On one acre of land, 50 people are dependent on an average, ranging from the families of cultivators to small-scale traders. An agricultural worker earns Rs 200-400 a day in the region. What will we do when we are dispossessed our land and livelihood? The government is giving us false promises like providing free education and health services in the name of development.”
Jayamma, a woman farmer from the village, said, “We are farmers and we only know how to cultivate our land. No amount can compensate loss of our life-long livelihood and basis of right to life. Money will be finished and we all will be left with no choice but to work as a worker in the factories where industries will rule our lives.”
“If the government and chief minister of Andhra Pradesh wants us to give up our land and livelihood, they should also be ready to give up their seats. They don’t deserve to represent us anymore”, she added.
At Lingyapalem, the third village, where a public meeting was organised by local community leaders, people said, the state government is hell bent on acquiring land and driving out everyone, including original inhabitants of the land. It is nothing but an injustice with adivasi, dalits, and landless workers.
Another public meeting was held in Ongole, organized by the Democratic Traditional Fishworkers Forum, APVVU, and State Yanadi Union, where local leaders expressed serious concern over the proposal to construction of 18 new ports and a large number of power plants, commissioned around ports on the 760 km long coastline of the state.
“All this is being done under Sagarmala and Industrial Corridor projects”, it was pointed out. “The access to the coast is being systemically restricted for the fisherpeople. They are being forced to abandon their fishing practices and become migrant workers in their own state.”
“We are unable to go for fishing as the rising urban population due to rapid urbanization around coasts and urban pollution are killing the fish population”, said A Subharav, a fisherman. “The coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) norms are being violated. Police officials brutally treat protesting fisher people. People are being killed and their bodies were taken away by the police forces”, added K Subharao, a teacher.

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